Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Farewell then John Barry

The urge to hum “The James Bond Theme” is almost irresistible. Dum dee dum dum, dum dum dum. Dum dee dum dum, dum dum dum. DAH DAH! DAH DOO DAH! But, of course, John Barry did not actually write that …

Mon, Jan 31, 2011, 22:08

   
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The urge to hum “The James Bond Theme” is almost irresistible. Dum dee dum dum, dum dum dum. Dum dee dum dum, dum dum dum. DAH DAH! DAH DOO DAH! But, of course, John Barry did not actually write that iconic piece of music.  The tune was credited to Monty Norman. Barry was officially the arranger. When queried on the matter, Barry would, however, make savage rumbling noises. Norman twice sued newspapers that claimed John was indeed the composer. Mr Norman won on both occasions. So, lest we further accelerate the death of print journalism, let’s be very clear on this matter. John Barry did not write The James Bond Theme. I trust no ambiguity remains.

At any rate, Barry, who has died at the age of 77, was one of the most distinctive cinema composers of all time. His lush chords and slinky arrangements were unmistakable. The music for the early Bond films is unbeatable. But don’t forget the cool metallic theme to The Ipcress File and (see above, nostalgia fans) the opening tune to The Persuaders. If I had to name a favourite Barry piece it would, however, be one to a film I don’t much fancy. Dances With Wolves is, from a number of perspectives, a very questionable piece of work. The music’s bleeding great though. Daa daa doo daa. Daa doo daa daa doo daa. And so forth.